Leukoplakia is a common condition (<1%) of the mouth that involves the formation of white leathery spots on the mucous membranes of the tongue and inside of the mouth. It is not a specific disease entity and is diagnosed by exclusion of diseases that may cause similar white lesions like candidiasis or lichen planus. more...
Leukoplakia is common in adults, mostly in the 50-70 years age group. The cause in most cases is unknown, but many are related to tobacco use and chronic irritation. A small proportion of cases, particularly those involving the floor of the mouth or the undersurface of the tongue is associated with a risk of cancer.
The so-called hairy leukoplakia associated with HIV infection and other diseases of severe immune deficiency does not have risks for cancer.
The treatment of leukoplakia mainly involves avoidance of predisposing factors like smoking, tobacco and betel chewing, alcohol,and removal of chronic irritants like sharp edges of teeth. In suspicious cases, a biopsy is also taken, and surgical excision done if pre-cancerous changes or frank cancer is detected.
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